Preparing Your Child for Drive-through COVID-19 Testing

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If you, your child, or someone in your family has symptoms of COVID-19 and you are looking for information about getting tested, your first step should be to call your primary care medical provider. They will coordinate safe testing and treatment and get you the care you need.

If your child’s healthcare provider has recommended drive-through testing for the new coronavirus (COVID-19), you may want to consider preparing them ahead of the experience. During this time of uncertainty, it’s important to provide honest information to increase your child’s sense of security.

1. First, review this simple language you can use to talk with your family about the new coronavirus.

2. You’ll also want to prepare your child for what the medical staff will be wearing and why.

Suggested language: "You will see people wearing gowns, gloves and masks. This is to help keep everyone as safe as possible."

Medical staff in PPEs

3. Prepare your child for what the Q-tip used to collect the sample will look like and what it will be used for.

Suggested language: “Someone will use a long Q-tip to rub the inside of your nose for about 10 seconds. This Q-tip will be sent to a doctor who will learn more about your body.”

Coronavirus cotton swab test

4. When the test is performed with your child in the car or car seat:

If you are able to sit next to your child during the swabbing it will give them a sense of comfort. If you are not, unbuckle yourself and turn around to face the child to provide reassurance. After the test is completed it might be helpful to pull over in a safe place and comfort your child. 

Parents and kids in cars

5. You may want to make a plan to help your child cope during the test. Validate your child’s feelings. Consider saying, “It’s OK to feel upset about this. Let’s figure out a way we can get through this together.”

Suggested coping options:

  • Listening to soft music
  • Counting
  • Deep breathing
  • Cold drink for afterward

Focus on things your child has a choice in. For example, “What could we bring with us to help?”

Suggested items to bring:

  • Electronic device
  • Favorite blanket
  • Stuffed animal
  • Favorite book or toy

Let your child know that it’s OK to not like getting the test, but that they need to hold as still as possible.

Suggested language:

“Try to hold your head still like a soldier.”
“Let’s pretend we’ve been frozen like Elsa.”
“It’s important to keep your head, arms and legs as still as possible.”

If a series of pictures might help your child better understand the testing process, you can also download and print this document outlining COVID-19 drive-through testing steps to add to your explanation and words of comfort.

Find additional information on helping your child cope with medical procedures

March 2020